Skillagallee Trip Report

Alright, more of a trip report on our island venture….

We got up to Cross Village at about 1am – rather late for a four hour drive that was planned to start at 5pm, but that is apparently the way of things. We drove around scoping out the place for a short while before we found the beach and a place we could park for the night. Doug and Josh proceeded to sleep on the beach. I had claim to the back seat of the jeep. I like the ‘romantic’ notion of sleeping under the stars and all, but I also don’t want to wake up covered in bug bites and the simple thought of such would likely keep me from actually achieving sleep. I didn’t really feel like pitching a tent either since there was really no reason.

So, the next morning, we awoke around 7:30 I think – my cell phone was dead because it had been searching for a signal all night :-/. We went into town (ie. the two block stretch that had stuff on it) and got breakfast at a small cafe. I had a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, two eggs over easy and some toast. It was damn good, and probably a days worth of food, but I figure paddling out in cold water is justification for lots of available energy.

We departed around 11:30 from the Port of Cross Village – which was a legit boat launch. From the shore we could kind of see the lighthouse – you can make it out in the pic with the boats looking out to the lake, but just barely. The paddle out was a little choppy. The wind was from the Southwest, and we were heading more or less west. Given the choice of wind, this is preferable to me – it makes the going harder, but you see everything coming also.

I think we took about 3 hours to get to and land on the island, but that’s a very inaccurate measure. We circled it near twice to find where we wanted to land. Anything in the Northeast quadrant was right out because it was downwind of the stink of five thousand birds. The little ‘bay’ on the West side was alright, but full of large squirrely carp which I had the fun of stirring up. We ended up beaching at the Northwest point.

First thing we did… hold paddles in the air and charge a flock of thousands of birds. I was attempting to make noises resembling a tuscan raider, not sure how that worked out.

After scaring the shit out of the birds – literally, we did out island exploration. Because of where we landed, we had to cross near the terns nesting area – they didn’t like that so much and took to diving and screeching at us. None actually attacked (apparently that’s more a trait of arctic terns, these were just common terns). The did look cool though.

Near the center of the island, surrounding the lighthouse were the seagulls and cormorants. Generally seagulls are considered to be dirty, but they pale in comparison to the cormorants. Regardless of which bird, there were nests everywhere. We had to be careful not to step on them.

The lighthouse was nothing special really – 30-40 ft tall, white, light on top – the standard. There used to be one tree on the island, but the cormorants shit it to death and it was reduced to no more than a scraggly fallen log.

We headed back after maybe an hour of minor exploration. The gnats by our boats were ridiculous, and nearly impossible to get rid of without mashing into everything. The paddle back was calm, with a warning of night storms coming from the West – which I don’t believe ever hit. By the time we got back to the mainland, the water was completely smooth. I rolled a few times out in the middle just to say I did, but given the completely calm weather it’s not like it was any different than Lake Lansing practice.

Upon our return, we dicked around for a while, finally packing up and heading out near 8pm. We stopped at the Legs Inn for dinner. It was Polish cuisine, which although I joke about, was rather good. Our waitress was Polish and it was her first night working after being in the US for two weeks. I of course received the obligatory shit about hooking up with her – if only I had paid attention to my grandpa’s Polish lessons :-P. We also accidentally learned how to say “shit” in Polish – by Doug mispronouncing a food name – much to her entertainment.

We ended up driving back and got back around 2:30 I think. Doug drove for the first while then I finished off the journey. We all got back undead and such, so I’d say it was a success. The total trip distance was about 14 miles of paddling which is formidable I’d say.

In unrelated news:

I’ve now played Stratego twice in my life – and didn’t suck quite as much at it this time.

I had a 19.1 mph average tonight – which is good for a ride that started out with me thinking about turning around. I need new gloves… will have to look into that. I might need a new route – Marsh road is not the most ass friendly place to ride and the sidewalks are outright dangerous on a road bike.

Kayak trip for next weekend is likely canceled :-(. I could go home for 4th of July weekend, or not I suppose. Should I stay or should I go… I really wish I had a fuel efficient car at times like these.

Lake Superior Provincial Park Kayaking

Kayaking report: It was fun.

This weekend I went up to Lake Superior Provincial Park to do some sea kayaking. The group was Todd & Linda, Kathleen, Dennis and myself. We left early evening Friday and drove up to the Gargantua Bay area of Lake Superior in Ontario. Stayed overnight in near Sault Ste Marie, then headed off to paddle in the morning.

The first day was nice and clear with a fair breeze toward shore and in the direction we were heading. We headed up the coast, going around and exploring several of the islands and a ship wreck in one of the harbors. I have some pictures from this time which I will likely post later.

Near the end of the first day, we found our camp spot in a small bay. It did cloud up and rain that evening, so we were all a little damp :-/, but no real issues. We did another small paddle out around some rock formations and a short hike up around the campsite, but all in all it was a rather calm night and we went to bed early, being rather tired from the previous night and to avoid bugs.

The second day we paddled back – duh. We made breakfast, packed up etc. It was quite foggy, and remained so for about half the trip back. We took a detour to around a large harbor and up the Gargantua River a little way. When we were almost back to our put in, we stopped off at a small island to climb up to the top and see the “lighthouse” there which was more of a light pole with a heli-pad near by for maintenance. (BTW flying helicopers around parks to change lightbulbs = awesome job) I have what I hope turns out to be a cool picture of the fog from atop this island.

At the end of the trip I couldn’t resist a swim, even though the water was f****** freezing. I claim it’s not so bad if you at least start out with neoprene warm gear on to dull the shock. Really though, the cold was worth it. I love kayaking, camping and other outdoor activities, but I also really like feeling clean (I had a bar of soap). Riding back would have been hellish if I had to do it all dirty and stinky.

The standout quote of the weekend, from me as the five of us were sitting on a log eating lunch: I turned to Denes and asked “Did you specifically choose the most obnoxiously colored Nalgene bottles available?” (They were magenta) Given standard lab interactions, this wouldn’t have qualified as anything special, but when with non lab people, it’s a little bit harsh I guess.

At this point I am more or less unpacked, and straightened away, which I heavily approve of since last season many trips lingered several days into the week which became very annoying. I didn’t really do anything today other than sleep, work and clean, but one recovery day is far better than a week full of living in piles of random unstowed gear.

Phone Hacking

This post is being brought to you over an internet connection provided by my cell phone. Really, this and transferring my phone book from my old phone was the goal of all the hacking, the rest was just added bonus.

I need to experiment with transfering pictures, ringtones, etc. Custom ringtones are nice, but not all that important. Same with picture transfer. Not that I’m willing to pay a cent for either of them.

I like Verizon because they have good coverage, good phones, and a cheaper plan than anyone else, but I dislike how they attempt to screw you into paying for everything through their services. The number of people who are going connect computer and phone is minimal enough that it wouldn’t be much of a loss for them to just allow it without requiring a hack.

In other news, this next week is going to be hell in work form to get the TTA ready to ship to Samsung. After that, I’m heading down to FL for a while (assuming I can get a cheap enough flight, or borrow someone’s car that gets 50mpg on the freeway). If you want to loan me your car, I’ll change the oil after my 2500 mile round trip – I promise. If you have a hybrid car, and loan that to me, you’ll be my hero, because then I’d get to experience a hybrid car as well as save lots o’ money on my trip to FL.

Plus, Matt has a new camera en route 😀 :-D.

Abandon

The latest new with me is that I got left on an island. It was fun.

Here’s how this came to be:

Last weekend, Josh Doug and I set out on a little kayaking journey. The plan was to kayak across the Straits of Mackinac, then on to Bois Blanc Island – which for those of you who don’t know is East of Mackinac Island about 4 miles. We headed up Friday morning, which put us starting a little late in the day – I think it was about 3:30 or so… I could check my GPS log, but that’s a lot of effort. We kayaked across which is always a fun time, then turned to head toward Mackinac Island which was a paddle into the wind :-(. We had a freighter come damn close to us after it passed under the bridge and turned to cut between Mackinac and Round Island. Due to the distance and time of day, we ended up camping on Round Island instead of paddling the 3 or 4 miles further to Bois Blanc.

On Saturday it rained, which was annoying – but when you’re camping and it rains you’re going to get wet regardless of what you do so there’s no good reason to let the rain stop any activity. So, we paddled over to Mackinac Island in the morning got some pizza and sandals – because they were on a very good sale :-). There really was minimal reason for this paddle other than something to do – and I guess we needed a lighter also since the matches were damn and running low. In the afternnon we started a hike around the island, which turned into a zig-zag into, across, back across, and down the island until we got to the lighthouse – which was closed for repairs (a sign which I was pressured into ignoring and will probably suffer brain damage from the lead paint as a result of). We were all damp from hiking trough the island, but it cleared up into a nice evening.

Sunday we got all packed up to leave. That was the last coordinated thing that happened. We had found a makeshift pit toiled on the island and were going to make a stop there before leaving since I average about two shits a day, this was important for me. I did not really feel I needed help or an audience for this, so I paddled off ahead of the group – this was in about 4 ft of water, so I didn’t really have safety concerns. I finished my poo and found the Josh and Doug had not yet rounded the corner/point of the island – this was concerning to me since it wasn’t that long of a paddle for them to be so far behind. I figured something must have happened, so I doubled back to camp to see what was going on. I found no-one on the way or at camp. My only real guess at this point was that they had decided to paddle around the other side of the island since it was something we had never done. So I figured I’d catch them and headed off on a quick rounding of the island that way. No beans.

They had decided to go check out the cruise ship which had anchored near Mackinac, and I had not seen them on my way back to camp. After they were done they headed to the point (lighthouse) and not finding me there continued on to Mackinaw City. I was coming around the other side of the island, and did not see them out in the Straits. So I beached near the lighthouse to wait for them – where ever they might be – since they’d have to pass the lighthouse to leave the island. Waiting was basically the story for the rest of the day. I made a couple more quick trips back to camp to see if they might be waiting there with no results.

After my final trip to camp, my plan was to head over to Mackinac and get a lighter and some water for the night then paddle back to Round Island and set up camp near the lighthouse and continue my wait. On my way to Mackinac, Josh calls me and tells me that they are in Mackinaw City – splendiferous. So I hopped a ride on Shepler’s (Arnold stops an hour earlier) back to the mainland.

So, that is the story of the latest kayak trip. My conclusion – yes, I got ahead of the group to take a shit, I did not head out on an 7 mile crossing with only a partial group.

PS apply a hefty dose of sarcasm to that first line.

Southern Most Point in the USA

For anyone who doens’t yet know, Al, Kyle, Kelly and I went to Key West for spring break. It was a very last minute thrown together budget trip that worked out very well. It was quite fun, and great to do, especially since I’ve never done major spring break stuff before. We basically threw together some plans, headed down to Florida then played things by ear from there. Lots of daquiris were drank and much beach using was done as well as some snorkeling and other fun. It was a good time I’m sure in part due to the fact that it was 75 degrees and sunny instead of 15 and snowy here :-P.

A basic rundown of what we did:

Friday 2 pm – we depart Lansing in my jeep which one week prior had completely destroyed front brakes and U joints that were on the way out.

Friday Night – we hit a 3 hr traffic backup on I-75. Who’s idea was it to divert freeway traffic to a winding country road anyway??? To make the best of it, we cue up the Blue Colar Comedy Tour movie on my laptop and have a good laugh.

Saturday about 6:30 am – we get to Atlanta and promptly pass out at Mike and Sarah’s apartment.

Saturday, we checked out a couple places for diving stuff, got some lunch at Chipotle, and went out to a couple Atlanta bars at night .

Sunday 11:00 am we depart for the second half of our trip.

Monday 4:00 am we get into Key West and get a nasty motel room for the night. No one really cared what it was so long as we could sleep.

Monday – we find a nice place to stay then spend the rest of the day hanging out on the beach. We basically had the upper floor of a small building overlooking a lagoon on Stock Island.

Tuesday – wake up very late since it’s our first real night of sleep. We go to beach during the day, then go out for dinner and finally head downtown to test out the Key’s night life. We went to the Green Parrot a small local bar a block off of Duval streed and Sloppy Joes which I believe was the longest standing bar there and a favored place of Ernest Hemmingway.

Wednesday – light to moderate rain (still warm though) :-/. Al and I went downtown for a while none the less basically just to wander up and down Duval street and see what was there. After going back to retrieve Kyle and Kelly we got some food and basically just lounged around for the rest of the day.

Thursday – chartered a snorkel trip out to the reef which was great, then went out for a wonderful seafood dinner. The reef was cool, but there was a lot of dead coral since that’s where all the tourists go. I had an underwater camera and took a roll full of pictures of various fish and coral.

Friday – went to the pay beach which had better swimming and some mild snorkeling to offer – not as spectacular as the reef, but fun none the less. About 4:00 we headed out of Key West on our way home.

Saturday 6:00 am – we get to Mikes again, but this time only stay to catch a little sleep and a shower, we leave again around 2:00 pm.

Sunday 4:30 am – we pull back into East Lansing a week and 3300 miles later thus concluding our spring break.

Now I’m just sad that it’s over.

Toronto Visit

Took a little trip to Toronto with Steve, Elizabeth and Mark for MLK day weekend. Fun. Very nice city to visit, went to the CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Science Center and Casa Loma. Also spent some time wandering around town. Toronto has an amazing amount of underground tunnels / corridors through many blocks of the city, and they’re not just tunnels, but extensions of the buildings above. Other than the lack of windows and the fact that you never had to venture out into the cold to cross streets the tunnel areas were exactly like any other mall area. They also seem to enjoy enclosing their alleys so rather than a bunch of shops lining a downtown street, the storefront is in the back which is entirely indoors – very nice. We’ll have to visit again sometime – it’s not exactly a cheap trip, but worth it.

I have many pictures and will post some on my web site soonish. I was going to yesterday, but I wasted most of the day piddling with my guest book page instead. I’m trying to convert it to use PHP and make it look decent in both Mozilla and Internet Explorer – the never ending pain in the ass brought to me by Microsoft.

Anyway, back to working on job app. related stuff since I really haven’t done that much along the lines of looking and will soon loose any advantage that early graduation has gotten me.